I had zero expectations for my first trip to Thailand. Besides eager anticipation of indulging in authentic Thai food, I really didn’t know what to expect. My knowledge of Thailand and its culture stopped at knowing that Bangkok is the capital city and that it is home to some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world! When the opportunity arose to visit, I excitedly and nervously accepted the offer to travel as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Excited that it would be my first visit to Asia and slightly nervous because my partner in crime/travel companion couldn’t join me on this international adventure!
All turned out wonderful. I had an amazing time, made new friends, and got to experience some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet! Though the trip started and ended in Bangkok, a few other travel writers and I took a side trip to Trang, about an hour and a half plane ride from the capital city. Following a visit to Tham Khao Chang Hai (Lost Elephant Cave), Na Muensri Village (known for its artisan weavings), and the Huay Yod District (where we visited a local home-industry of Thep Tharo wood carvings), we made our way to the coast for a highly anticipated trip to some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands!
Close to 50 islands sit off the Trang coastline. In our day of exploration, we only stopped at a handful, which can only mean one thing… I must go back! Though we were fortunate to have a private speed boat whisk us from island to island, there are a plethora of world-famous long-tail boats and other craft to take locals and tourists to the nearby islands.
Massive limestone cliffs and rocks dot the Andaman Sea’s horizon, creating an impressive scene.
It was darn near impossible not to snap tons of pictures as we passed endless beautiful landscapes.
I was honestly dreading our first stop- Tham Morakot (Emerald Cave) on Koh Mook. The reason for my fear is simple: I’m not a fan of being in the ocean, let along being in the ocean while navigating through a pitch black cave!
Two aspects helped me overcome my fears- 1) the warm water temperature kept me comfortable and 2) our group stayed close together, guided by a local with a headlamp, allowing us to actually see inside the 80-meter cave.
The reward was worth my temporary angst. We emerged on the other side of the cave to a tropical oasis: a white sandy beach surrounded by towering pine trees.
Just 5 minutes from the cave, we stopped off at a popular snorkeling spot. There were a few too many snorkelers in the water for our taste, and rightfully so, as the waters were teeming with colorful fish.
Normally, I’m terrified of snorkeling, but again the warm and clear waters naturally eased some of those fears. Being surrounded by new friends certainly helped as well. (Kristin from Souvenir Finder and Jessica from Ways of Wanderers, pictured below)
Next we were off to two of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever laid eyes on, the first being Koh Kradan.
Unfortunately we didn’t spend much time on Kradan, but it was long enough for me to fall in love with its beauty and give me the desire to come back and visit again… next time with my other half… and for more than just a quick stop. Known as the ‘Island of Love’, Kradan is home to the underwater wedding ceremony, held annually on Valentine’s Day.
Yea, I think I could spend at least a week here, relaxing with my toes in the sand!
Our final island stop of the day was the equally stunning Koh Hai, also known as Koh Ngai.
Scott, another member of our group, couldn’t resist the tempting crystal-clear water of the Andaman Sea.
Following a filling lunch at the Koh Hai Fantasy Resort, a few of the ladies in our group visited the nearby massage hut for a relaxing Thai massage.
I, on the other hand, decided I would much rather relax in the ocean, something I would never do in the freezing waters of the Pacific where I live.
On our way back to Pak Meng Pier, we stopped by Koh Mah, where we encountered hundreds of bats clinging to branches jutting from the walls of the limestone karsts rising up from the ocean.
These vocal creatures are unlike the most common bats most of us are familiar with, which prefer dark, wet caves.
It was an awesome sight (and sound) to experience… so unexpected in the middle of the ocean.
Next to the wall of bats was this tiny shack. I wonder if it’s Batman’s summer home!
As I said in the beginning, I had little expectations for my trip to Thailand. Even if I had expectations, I’m sure they would have been exceeded. The collection of islands off the coast of Trang can only be described as paradise. Without much to do other than relax, explore, and get pampered, this is the perfect region to escape to when you need to unwind. Whether you’re looking to honeymoon, take a casual family vacation, or go on a solo trip to get away from it all, the islands of Trang will leave you satisfied… and relaxed.
Check out the video from my trip to Trang below!